Friday, March 18, 2022

Sahara Snow.

The magnificent oak door of the Hospice.

Sometimes refered to as the Gd St Bernard Monastery, but more commonly refered to as the Hospice de Gd St Bernard , either way it is on of the most incredible places you could hope to visit on a pair of skis.  I have been lucky enough to stay many, many times, in all sorts of weather, but this was the first time I had to go in a Sarah sand-storm. It left the snow looking brown and not a little apocalyptic.
On this trip I was joined by Diana, Charlie, Cordelia and Mike. Only Charlie had been before and he was keen for his friends to experience this wonderful place too.
We left Chamonix and drove aound to the road head at what use to be the Super Saint- Bernard lift , which is now sadly defunct.  We arrived to an unpleasant scene of sand and snow blowing around and buffeting the car.  I immediatly turned around and drove into the deep dark foyer of the Gd St Bernard tunnel where we were able to gear up in the dry before eventually braving the wind and heading off up the track to the Hospice, in less than glorious weather .
1st emergency shelter on the way up to the Hospice

At the first shelter I decided this was a good place for lunch.  We were all happy to get out of the wind for a while .
Any port in a storm: The comparitive luxury of the emergency shelter.

We then continued to the next shelter where we again availed our selves of its "ammenities."

Everyone was more than happy when we got our first sight of the Hospice and even happier when we could shut the massive oak door behind us leaving the weather behind and enjoy the majestic silence.
We were welcomed with the traditional Hospice tea, before I retired for an afternoon's snooze and the rest of the team went to explore the chapel and the museum.  Dinner was very convivial, although the Dole left me with a rather "thick head."

The weather forecast was more or less correct- the next day was clear and there was little wind , but it was way too warm. It had snowed over night, but not light fluffy stuff. No , instead,  it was like cement, not white but a brown sludge.  We were away first and it only took a couple of meters to realise I'd not been  smart being in pole position. Mind you at the speed I was breaking trail it did not take long for other teams to catch us up and then they naively over took me and immediatly started to suffer.  I saw no reason to try and catch them up...

Our goal for the day was the summit of Mt Fourchon. We made slow but steady progress and eventually   left our skis just below the summit before scrambling to the top.
Charlie approaching the summit.

The view was better than the photo suggests

 The ski down was not the best:  Sand on top of snow, it was soggy and leg sapping.  Still the team were all very good skiers [Thankfully.]   I attempted to lift their moral by pointing out at least we werent on Snow-shoes like many of the other parties. 
We then plodded back the way we came , arrived back at the Hospice ,peeled our skins off and then skied back to the road head.

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